back to article Too many bricks in the wall? Lego slashes inventory

Reassuringly expensive plastic brick maker Lego was forced to write down a load of stock in 2017 – a move that rocked its bottom line – as it produced blocks that some customers clearly didn't want to build with. The Danish-based toy maker reported an 8 per cent slide in revenue for the calendar year to DKK 35bn (£4.21bn) – …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    breakout irl with the excess blocks?

  2. AndyS

    Lego...

    I grew up loving it but now, as a parent, I find that it is both eye-wateringly expensive, and obsessively niche. Why does my daughter need a pink set with ponies and flowers? But since it's on the shelf, that's what she will want.

    Luckily we've still got 3 or 4 boxes of mid 90s lego railway in the attic, and a baby bath full of generic bricks.

    1. theblackhand

      Re: Lego...

      I enjoyed playing with Lego growing up and looked forward to my kids having a similar experience.

      What I've found is that a lot of the modern Lego sets are quite fragile with lots of custom blocks per set or range compared to the brick based sets from my youth.

      My kids still play with the large brick sets to create Minecraft-like buildings or vehicles, but the modern sets tend to be played with once, involve a lot of adult interaction to put the fiddly bits back together and remain untouched.

      I still waste too much money on Technic stuff that's like a jigsaw puzzle...

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Lego...

        "My kids still play with the large brick sets to create Minecraft-like buildings or vehicles, but the modern sets tend to be played with once"

        exactly. After a while, parents catch on and buy the kids the thing that lasts for a while, rather than paying for the overpriced "new, shiny" that only gets used one time.

        Also Lego seems to be having a classic 'inventory control' problem. The solution to an inventory control problem is EXACTLY what their CEO appears to be doing. You have to eliminate the excess inventory, using the method that creates the least amount of pain, and then fix your forecasting methods and get the production schedule RIGHT this time, so you don't end up with another warehouse full of crap that won't sell.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Lego...

      I am personally quite unhappy with what Lego has become.

      I got a medieval castle when I was 13. All the walls and towers and even the secret door where made of basic Lego bricks, all reusable in thousands of ways.

      Last XMas my godson got a Saturn V rocket. He spent two days putting it together, but all I could see was "and then what ?".

      I do not see any reuseability in those specialized, much too complicated pieces. Okay, you get a nice-looking spaceship, but that's all you get.

      It's a lie. All og Lego is now a lie. Once upon a time it was about imagination, now it's just about cashing in.

      Sorry, Lego, looks like you're just nostalgia now. I won't be sorry to see you go if you don't change your ways.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Lego...

        I built my Saturn V out of standard bricks. For realism I got an Airfix kit.

        1. fishman

          Re: Lego...

          "I built my Saturn V out of standard bricks."

          I built a Saturn 1 using the cardboard tubes from Christmas wrapping paper. The tanks on the first stage of the Saturn 1 are visible from the outside, and it took somewhere around 8 tubes to recreate the look. I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old.....

        2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          At Pen-y-gors...

          I tried building a Saturn V out of LEGO as well, but I ran out of money before I could build the second stage.

          *Comical pout*

          Damned shipping costs for bulk tonnage bricks!

          =-)p

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: At Pen-y-gors...

            Not to mention the number of ladders you need

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: Lego...

        My Lego Saturn V was one of the most satisfying 8 hours I spent last year. I'm also fairly certain that it's not intended to be broken up, mine has pride of place on the dining room table as an object I love.

        It's the only lego I've bought in a decade but I think the big models like it have their place.

        1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: Lego...

          I got the impression that the likes of the Saturn V, Mini Cooper sets etc. were more intended to be "grown up" model sets, rather than a "build it up, knock it down, build whatever you want" kids set.

          When I grew up I had all sorts of sets, F1 pit/start line, a castle gate, a chalet house, a boat, a plane, loads of little cars. In the end everything ended up a garage.

          Then I got Technic, the incredible black sports car with the suspension, steering, V8 engine, popup lights

      3. GerryMC

        Re: Lego...

        "specialized, much too complicated pieces."

        After recently building the Saturn V kit, I can say there are few custom pieces involved. As far as I can see the only custom ones are the lettering (USA/United States) and American flag bricks.

        It even uses some 4x2 pieces. However some of the bits are complicated!

        And.., Castle! Luxury. All we had were standard 4x2, 2x2 etc, along with some doors and windows, and some roof pieces.

    3. FozzyBear Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Lego...

      @AndyS

      eye-wateringly expensive

      Eye watering in other ways when you step on the damn things in the middle of the night

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Lego...

        "Eye watering in other ways when you step on the damn things in the middle of the night"

        There are worse things to stand on. Australian power plugs for instance.

  3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Lego is now shit.

    When I was a kid you had a big box of bricks that you could build whatever you wanted with. Now the ones I buy for my nephew give you a handful of bricks to make a specific thing.

    K'Nex was good, don't know if that still is. Kind of like a mix between Lego and Meccano - you could build four foot high towers, with paths for balls to roll down and a mechanism to bring them back up to the top, things like that.

    eg: https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--Me7sOVoU--/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/1384011189748034632.jpg

    1. TWB

      Shit is a big strong

      But I concur, too many specialist parts - I found my creativity was much better when there was a narrower range.

      I get Lego sets for my son and he loves building the model(s) but does not create many of his own ideas yet - fingers crossed this will come - I want to share ideas!

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Shit is a big strong

        K'NEX to me were the vegan equivalent of Mechano.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lego, KNex, Mechano

          Since we're all in old-fart mode, does anyone remembers Hering Rasti?

          No? Get off my lawn then.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "K'Nex was good, don't know if that still is."

      I beg to differ. In my experience, K'Nex models fall to bits far more easily than lego models. My kids *play* with their lego models, but their K'nex models get built, played with briefly, and then returned to the box, never to see daylight again, because of their fragility.

      I wish they'd play with their K'nex instead though, I got a huge lego technic bucket wheel excavator kit for christmas, and my daughter built most of it last week on the two days her school was closed for snow.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "K'nex models get built, played with briefly, and then returned to the box, never to see daylight again, because of their fragility."

        _ALL_ of these kinds of models should be broken up. Leaving built ones sitting around too long stifles creativity.

    3. IsJustabloke
      Meh

      Agreed...

      "Now the ones I buy for my nephew give you a handful of bricks to make a specific thing."

      Meccano went down the same route from a box of generic plates with a very few specialized bits and bobs to a box with few generalized plates plus a large quantity of specialized plates.

      The only childhood toy that is remotely like the stuff I played with as a yoof is Scalextric.. that said the digital stuff is eyewateringly expensive and even a basic car costs between 50 and 60 quid a throw and it's also remarkably fragile for something that's marketed as a "toy". I won't even let my adult friends have a go once the beer has been opened... drink driving, just don't do it!

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Agreed...

        Back in the 60's, when Lego was still "a box of bricks", the Erector Set went the "specialty" route.

        I had a box o' generic parts that I had tons of fun with and plans to build a whole BUNCH of stuff [which I did, for several years in fact]. Only a few items needed 'specialty' parts. But I remember seeing the specialty kits in the toy isles. My parents wouldn't buy them, saying "you've already got a HUGE Erector Set". (they were smart)

        Apparently the Erector sets nowadays are actually 'Meccano' sets.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erector_Set

        So they repeated the same mistake.

        At least they're still made of Steel. You gotta give a young kid something he could actually hurt himself with, then supervise how he uses the tools until he's safe with them. Getting the occasional cut from a semi-sharp steel edge is a good training tool on why you use safety precautions, learned at a young enough age where you can't really hurt yourself THAT bad, and it tends to stick in your mind better.

      2. Jan 0

        Re: Agreed...

        > Meccano went down the same route from a box of generic plates with a very few specialized bits and bobs

        Meccano didn't start out that generic. I had Trix as a kid: that had far fewer different parts, but was just as versatile due to very thoughtful German/Jewish engineering. The aluminium alloy plates were more rigid, but surprisingly bendable if you needed a curve.

        I no longer have the Trix construction parts. However I still have a lot of Trix OO gauge railway parts, beautifully made, but with the horrid three rail system. Unfortunately, I don't have any of their beautiful stations, because my dad was a skilled woodworker:)

        In my first proper job, the lab I worked in had a grown-up engineer's construction set made by FAC (FAC-System). Very useful for making rapid prototype machines. I'm rather pleased to discover that FAC is still in business. Hmm, I have a very tempting idea...

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Creator sets have pieces to build three different things, Classic sets are the big box of bricks you remember.

    5. phuzz Silver badge

      MLGA

      "Now the ones I buy for my nephew give you a handful of bricks to make a specific thing."

      Buy different kits then. There's still plenty of kits which have little-to-no custom pieces.

      Here's the first kit that come up for me on Amazon, and I can only spot a few "non-brick" pieces. There's the moped which looks like a modern version of x81c01 from thirty years ago, the parasol, and the weird chip/fries thing. All the other pieces are the sort of bricks Lego have always been making.

      Just be a bit more selective when you're looking for Lego, rather than buying the first one on the shelf.

    6. Alan Brown Silver badge

      K'Nex and a couple of the others started out as addons to Lego to do things lego couldn't do.

      Those kits are worth having, but the specialist ones are very much a case of "build once" and that's it - which has been annoying me since the 1980s.

  4. Drew Scriver

    LEGO isn't what it used to be...

    The '70s and '80s where probably the haydays of LEGO in Europe.

    Back then, it was possible to build large, sturdy structures. Since, however, the company changed the bricks so they don't stick together as well. Not as many broken fingernails, but it's no longer possible to build the same large structures that used to be popular back in the day.

    In addition, LEGO tends to look more and more like Playmobil in that the pre-formed pieces are getting larger and larger. I don't much care for the popular themed stuff either. I guess that's what people want these days, though.

    On the other hand, the Creator sets are quite fantastic.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: LEGO isn't what it used to be...

      The '70s and '80s where probably the haydays of LEGO in Europe.

      Agreed. The Lego castle/knights sets were my favourites growing up. Also really liked the space sets but I think that was where the rot started to really set in, as these introduced a lot of fairly specialist parts, IIRC

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: LEGO isn't what it used to be...

        A lot of people are saying that the film & tv tie-in sets have ruined the product, but so long as they retain the original, plain, bricks alongside these more lucrative toys, I don't see a problem. One tie-in that I'd love to see would be the new Thunderbirds series. The pod vehicles are now modular, you see, and if there's one thing that's going to lend itself to Lego-isation, it's going to be that!

    2. sorry, what?
      Stop

      Re: LEGO isn't what it used to be...

      I guess you didn't see the Lego Masters TV competition. This was a lot of standard brick stuff mixed with some of the specialist blocks/pieces. Some truly inspired designs and builds.

      From my perspective, I agree with the comments about creativity - my youngest loves Lego, but only for building the models as sold. My experience was totally different, creating buildings, vehicles, spaceships and landscapes from my own imagination - much more rewarding IMHO.

      Final point, to the tune of Frozen's Let it go:

      "Lego go, Lego go, Logo sell those bricks to me

      Lego go, Lego go, even better make them f-ree-ee

      I don't care what your profits are;

      Let the bricks go cheap

      The prices really bothered me every time"

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: LEGO isn't what it used to be...

      I played with Lego back in the mid 60's. It was pretty simple then, a nice compliment to Tinker Toy, Lincoln Logs, and the Erector Set. A box of Lego could be played with for HOURS. With all 4 of those things, plus a model train set and road racing set, you could build an entire model city. More or less.

      I guess the Legoland parks have already done that with just Lego, though.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    My son is a big lego fan. But I find that a specific build for Minecraft for example, won't appeal to as wide an audience. Same with his Star Wars Lego sets, If you're not a fan of a targeted tie in, then it's destined to under perform...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hope El Reg can still get hold of enough Playmobil?

  7. Drat

    Worse to come

    I have to wonder what Lego's strategy is to cope with the time in the not too distant future when everyone has access to a 3D printer and can print their own bricks from downloadable designs. They need a plan to convert into a company that supplies said digital plans...

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Worse to come

      I guess they'd play the copyright card, and come down hard on anyone selling plans based on the designs for interlocking bricks that they hold rights to. They didn't just patent the pattern which is used on the bricks that they sell, but also patented lots of other patterns which would achieve similar results so as to deter copyists.

      [here I have used the word patent, because I think it's the right term, but intellectual property law is not my strong point. Hopefully I've conveyed the general point, and please feel to correct my terminology if I'm got it wrong]

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: Worse to come

        @ Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

        Lego has already lost the battle to prevent copy-cat compatible bricks. They just don't have the lego logo imprinted on them. That said, the cheap copycat ones are, in my limited experience, not worth the money.

        1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: Worse to come

          "That said, the cheap copycat ones are, in my limited experience, not worth the money."

          Not so sure Jim, the likes of Lepin and Sluban bricks have progressed leaps and bounds and are now surprisingly good quality for the price.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Worse to come

        'Copyright card'? The patent on Lego expired already, and other manufacturers are already eating Lego's lunch. UK chain Wilkinson have their own brand 'Blox' which is a complete Lego rip off, same sizes, and connects with pukka Lego blocks.

        1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: Worse to come

          That's how Mega Bloks got started, used to be the cheap alternative to lego

          Now they produce a lot of licenced sets - Call of Duty, Halo, NASCAR, Turtles etc.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Worse to come

          Anyone who sings the praises of those Wilko bricks has never seen them in action.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: Worse to come

            A fight of the plastic bricks based on quality alone, with all parts interchangeable?

            Let it begin!

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Worse to come

              Lego wins. Flawless victory.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Worse to come

          "Wilkinson have their own brand 'Blox' "

          Other countries had their own versions too - NZ Had "Torro", which interconnected and had more interesting shapes but was made of _much_ softer plastic. (It was kind of a cross between meccano and lego, interconnecting with both) - it also pops up in other countries as "LITA Nouvea"

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB0JrzvLubg

    2. Named coward

      Re: Worse to come

      I doubt self-printed bricks would be cheaper than the mass produced injection-moulded ones. Not to mention looks (polishing) and strength

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Worse to come

      "in the not too distant future when everyone has access to a 3D printer and can print their own bricks from downloadable designs."

      Simple. Sell cheaper than you can print them.

  8. My-Handle

    At this moment, at home, my office floor is covered in Lego Technic (and assorted other blocks) in the process of being sorted. My collection consists mostly of long beams, plates, axles, gears and a few other more fiddly pieces. In my youth, with these very bricks, I have built room-high marble runs, working and reasonably accurate clocks, a three foot long, seven feet high automatic rolling crane, elastic band powered guns that quite frankly got far beyond being safe...

    My brother got Lego City style sets during those same years. He built... the Lego city sets.

    Don't get me wrong, I will likely still buy Lego Technic sets. But I treat the model I buy as something nice to build once, for the interest, then disassemble to fuel my next project. I regard the themed sets as largely a waste of time.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      I treat the model I buy as something nice to build once, for the interest, then disassemble to fuel my next project

      Probably the most succinct description of the spirit of Lego that anyone could come up with - have an upvote

      1. IanRS

        2x4 blocks are what Lego is all about

        My son got the Saturn V set (target age 14+) for his 6th birthday recently, which I was banned from 'helping' with. It took him a while, but he was able to build it. He now refuses to consider any sets which are not intended for at least age 8. He has an enormous lego collection, plus occasional access to my old Lego Technic sets, but he still likes building things out of standard 2x4 blocks. The specialised pieces are too specialised these day and no good for anything beyond that one function. Ebay comes in very handy for 'vintage' lego.

    2. tfewster Silver badge

      "Lego", derived from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means "play well". Not "slavishly follow instructions that take all the creativity out of it"

  9. TRT Silver badge

    They plan...

    to break the company down, restructure and rebuild.

    Should be a doddle.

  10. Pat Att

    The cost!!

    If Lego wants to sell more then they should do something about their obscene prices. Go to a branch of Wilco (in the UK) and you can get compatible bricks, and fancy designs at about a quarter of the cost of the Lego stuff. The instructions are good too. If more people bought this, then Lego might think twice about fleecing their fans.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The cost!!

      "If Lego wants to sell more then they should do something about their obscene prices."

      The cheaper alternatives are not manufactured to the same engineering tolerances. I find it amusing that some old aircraft have tolerances measured in centimeters for their wings, and lego relies on tolerances of a fraction of a millimeter.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: The cost!!

        > and lego relies on tolerances of a fraction of a millimeter.

        WHY (and would that even be particularly expensive).

        > I find it amusing that some old aircraft have tolerances measured in centimeters for their wings,

        I have never seen someone build an A/C ourt of lego. I'm sure the FCC would disapprove.

        1. IanRS

          Re: The cost!!

          Flying lego: https://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/a23667/lego-plane-that-can-fly/

          Some of the cheap alternatives are so bad that you can put one piece on top of another, pick up the assembly by the top piece, and the bottom piece stays behind. The tolerances that Lego is made to really are very tight, but they have had a lot of practice at making blocks by now and I don't think the price premium is completely justified by that alone.

        2. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
          Boffin

          Re: The cost!!

          "WHY"

          Legos stick together due to friction; you can't get that effect reliably without them being very precisely the same size(and, even if that weren't important, the fact that they're so tiny inherently implies a higher degree of precision).

        3. jaywin

          Re: The cost!!

          I'm sure the FCC would disapprove.

          Not sure the Federal Communications Commission would be bothered to be honest...

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The cost!!

      The compatible sets from Wilko are pretty bollocks. They're not that compatible and whatever it is you're building is usually badly designed so it falls apart easily.

  11. DJV Silver badge

    "sell off excess stock on the cheap"

    "sell off excess stock at a much more realistic price"

    FTFY

  12. 404 Silver badge

    ...

    I'm going to be 54 this year and I bought a Lego Batman set yesterday... Don't tell me how to have fun...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: ...

      Release the Kragle!

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: ...

        'Release the Kragle!'

        Never! I am not a barbarian.

    2. zebthecat

      Re: ...

      Awesome!

    3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: ...

      @404 'Lego batman'

      49, and I recently bought a Lego Space Shuttle,......

    4. Justin Case

      Re: ...

      @404

      I'm going to be 54 this year

      I'm going to be 54 this year, too. How'd that happen?

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: ...

        'I'm going to be 54 this year, too. How'd that happen?'

        I don't know. I don't feel like 54. Never expected to make it past 20, so every day is gravy ;)

        edit: I do know a lot of ways things don't work, for what it's worth...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ...I'm going to be 54 this year, too. How'd that happen?

        Not dying is the usual method.

      3. the Jim bloke Silver badge

        Re: ...

        Failure to die earlier.

        Keep that up and who knows where it will end.

    5. Steve the Cynic

      Re: ...

      All those people buying the Saturn V for their kids... I bought it for myself because, er, well, let's just say that the Apollo launches were one of the Grand Stunts of the 20th century, and when the Lego Store about a mile from home had it in the window, well, er, how were you going to keep me away from it? (For reference, I'll be 52 in a few weeks.)

      I even weighed it. It turns out to be about three quarters of the right scale weight for a fully fuelled real one. That is, if you scaled it up to the true height of the original, the model would weigh about 2250 tonnes instead of the original's 3000.

      I think that might be showing off my outer geek, though.

      1. GerryMC

        Re: ...

        Yeah, I'm 54 and recently got the Saturn V for the same reason. It wasn't easy to come by in NZ, they were selling out very quickly and Lego charges $NZ70 for delivery to NZ, so I didn't want to buy direct.

        And I "had" to let my 11 y.o. help... (SWMBO)

      2. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Re: ...

        The one I want is the Death Star [1] but I can't justify spending €500 on it. I should have enough Lego to build it but most my Lego is last millenium and lots of new types pieces have come out in the meantime.

        [1] I'd even compromise and get the Lego Friends Death Star for my girls (if it weren't so much):

        https://technabob.com/blog/2015/05/06/lego-friends-death-star/

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: ...

        I even weighed it. It turns out to be about three quarters of the right scale weight for a fully fuelled real one.

        Do you get translucent LOX/Kero bricks to fill it?

        Now, it would be nice if they did Russian designs too, which are more adventurous.

        I used to do plastic model kits of Apollo things. That was cool and instructive. I also know all the details of a Tiger I...

        1. Steve the Cynic

          Re: ...

          Do you get translucent LOX/Kero bricks to fill it?

          Not as such, although the model isn't entirely hollow - there are plenty of bricks inside, and lots of them seemed to be structurally unnecessary, which leads me to suspect that they are there just to add weight and/or move the centre of gravity downwards.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps they can sell off the excess lego bricks ...

    ... to the Orange One for down south, down Mexico way.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps they can sell off the excess lego bricks ...

      Make it over the Field of Lego barefoot and you're in!

  14. LDS Silver badge

    With some model, they couldn't cope with request.

    The Saturn V went out of stock early in July, and I had to wait for December to get one.

    Juts, they won't make the launch tower :-(

    1. Pete4000uk

      Re: With some model, they couldn't cope with request.

      Build your own!

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: With some model, they couldn't cope with request.

        The only issue is to have to source all the required pieces. I have to check if the designer released the full list and instructions.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Screw em!

    Went to Legoland a few years back and the price of the lego kits in their shop were astonishingly astronomical - I thought that because you were buying direct from Lego the prices would be better than retail, but no, they completely abused the captive audience & nagging kids situations to jack up the prices.

    So screw em!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Screw em!

      Have you ever been to the Harry Potter place? All these places are well expensive. Except Cadbury World, and that wasn't as cheap as you'd have thought for the misshapes.

    2. MMR

      Re: Screw em!

      Legoland is property of Merlin (yea, Alton Towers and etc.) so prices are dictated by Lego.

  16. Lee D Silver badge

    Wouldn't have anything to do with their patents expiring and so the market being flooded with compatible parts (which are often cooler than anything Lego have produced themselves, e.g. strips of Lego-compatible bases on a reel tape, mugs with Lego-compatible bases, etc. etc.).

    Their products are still overpriced. My daughter loves Lego Friends but even some of the bigger sets can run to over £100. For a bunch of plastic blocks. By comparison I can get her about 4-5 Android tablet computers for that price.

    And the £5-10 "mini-kits" are an absolute p***-take. There's about 10 parts in them and they're all tiny and not very interchangeable at all. That's can mean 50p-£1 for one tiny little brick or flower in some cases.

    Would be happy to support them, and they've bought up things like Lego Minecraft and similar, but the fact is they're just too expensive for what is a mass-produced plastic twiddly bit that's hardly ever a brick.

    Make less specific parts, make more bricks from the standard moulds, they'll then be cheaper to mass-produce. And fill the bag/box with parts, rather than a tiny, quarter-full bag not even occupying one third the volume of the box.

  17. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    China?

    Nice to see Europe selling cheap plastic toys to China for a change. Well, expensive plastic toys...

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Bert 1
    Facepalm

    Lego Minecraft

    Really?!

    I always though the Minecraft was essentially virtual Lego,

    How can it be right that we now have a physical copy of the virtual Lego!

    Isn't that just Lego?

    PS - FWIW, it is hugely overpriced, but for what you get, so are the cheap knock-offs.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Lego Minecraft

      I could really mess you up and show you Lego Worlds which is basically a computer game based on Minecraft using virtual Lego bricks.

      1. Geekpride

        Re: Lego Minecraft

        Legoception.

  20. DXMage

    The Lego it too damn high!

    The cost of Legos is just too damn high. There is no reason they should cost as much as they do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Lego it too damn high!

      Downvoted for "legos"

  21. doublelayer Silver badge

    What we need

    We just need somewhere to produce a gigantic bucket of standard lego parts. Nothing unusual--just your ordinary smallish bricks that you lose a lot of and there is no problem with that. This allows kids to do what I did when I was younger and play with their siblings in trying to make things. True, most of mine were basically box-shaped, with anything theoretically interesting on the side of the box or inside it on platforms, but we don't have to put imagination limits on it. I always thought my brother was much better at it than I was, but I now know he just produced the designs from the box while I produced the box.

  22. Curious

    Lego Classic boxes?

    They sell the "lego classic" boxes. 480 pieces for 25 quid.

    They just don't push them in the shops or their web site, there might be one box of the stuff in a wall of short-term branded lego kits.

    1. Rockets

      Re: Lego Classic boxes?

      Yep Lego Classic kits are for those pining for old school Lego building. I've seen Lego Classic kits in the stores just a few weeks ago. The Lego Classic Large box 10698 has 790 pieces in 33 colours with a variety of brick shapes. RRP £39.99. My only complaint about these is the 33 colours, I'd rather a reduced colour palette.

      My son is wanting to buy some of these so he can just free build his own stuff. He's got a tonne of Lego which are mostly Star Wars kits which he generally displays but he regularly tears them down to either rebuild them or free build stuff out of the parts. I miss the old Space range of my childhood like the Galaxy Explorer & Galaxy Voyageur. These days I've got numerous large UCS Star Wars sets (Millennium Falcon, Slave I & Star Destroyer) and some Technic cars like the Porsche GT3 RS

  23. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    "There wasn't enough room to get 2017 toys into the stores, and the toy trade is driven by newness,"

    Is that really true of Lego? They sell so many different sets that I'm not sure anyone would notice if they didn't release any new sets for a year.

  24. EveryTime Silver badge

    This is surprising news.

    My son is now of prime Lego-requesting age.

    I haven't seen significant discounting on anything Lego related, apart from an occasional price cut on sets that had no appeal.

    Between Ninjago, Lego movies in the theater, Lego movies on disk, Lego themed video games, Lego sets, four days at Legoland, etc I'm surprised their revenues aren't up a few points from my son alone.

  25. GBE

    management is not satisfied with the financial results

    management is not satisfied with the financial results

    No kidding.

    When was the last time you heard management say "OK guys, we're satisfied: sales and margins are high enough, so everybody take it easy."

  26. Chris Gray 1
    FAIL

    Do your research

    I know this is a lot of El Reg commentards, but as usual you should do a bit of reseach before mouthing off.

    LEGO in general does not make specialty pieces for sets. There are occasional ones for some of the collectable or licensed minifigs. Those make them lots of money. As for the Saturn V set (taps on it - not opened yet), I looked through the parts inventory here:

    https://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemInv.asp?S=21309-1

    and didn't find anything special, other than the few painted pieces. Pick a piece there and click on its part number - that'll show you how many sets that part has been used in.

    The cost of LEGO pieces is driven by two things: the cost of the material primarily, and the cost of the moulds. Check the Lego website's pick-a-brick page and you'll see.

    The material that LEGO uses (which is different from 50 years ago) lasts much better than the stuff used by the cheap knockoffs. I used to have Megabloks years ago - they started out with pieces that didn't match LEGO shapes very well (I've been told it is fairly hard to allow for shrinkage of various shapes as they are pushed out of the mold), but got better in a few years. But, as far as I know, they still use a material that will flake away after too many uses.

    1. cs9

      Re: Do your research

      Dear Lego employee,

      When I search lego on Amazon the top 6 hits are:

      LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box 10696

      LEGO Super Heroes Sanctum Sanctorum Showdown 76108 Building Kit

      LEGO City Great Vehicles Heavy Cargo Transport 60183 Building Kit

      LEGO City Great Vehicles Pickup & Caravan 60182 Building Kit

      LEGO Super Heroes the Hulkbuster Smash-up 76104 Building Kit

      "LEGO in general does not make specialty pieces for sets".

      The Caravan has a single piece for the camper and the truck. Hard to see a lot of re-use.

      The Super Hero kit has some sort of death ray piece. Perhaps I had bad parents but I don't remember these from my childhood.

      The Heavy Cargo has a speciality.. wait there's that word again, a totally non custom and re-usable helicopter and truck.

      The super hero sanctum includes everyone's favorite generic re-usable LEGO piece, the wall manacles.

      "I know this is a lot of El Reg commentards, but as usual you should do a bit of reseach before mouthing off."

      * ahem *

      LEGO's reputation of producing overpriced sets chock full of custom, useless-out-of-context pieces, might-as-well-throw-the-whole-kit-away-if-you-lose-anything sets is very, very well deserved.

      Researchfully yours,

  27. WereWoof

    Anyone remember Airfix Betta Bilda?

  28. Rob Fisher

    Grumpy old men

    They still sell 2x4 bricks and boxes of basic bricks. Expensive? They last forever at least.

    I suppose Lego could have stuck to just that, but they'd have 200 employees and one factory.

    We quite enjoy the tie-in sets, the TV series and the computer games (and the theme parks and even the hotel). What we have now is a lot of choice. Too diverse a product range might be a problem for Lego but it's hard to see how it's a problem for its customers.

    "Too many custom parts" isn't quite true either. Having bought sets from many themes there are hardly any brick-types that aren't seen used in different ways across multiple sets. There are a lot of different pieces, though, and this does make it harder to build creatively with bits from disassembled themed sets. The solution is to buy boxes of basic bricks.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, the sales are down. The poor sets from latest Star Wars (courtesy of Disney) didn't help and neither did the unability to fulfil the demand for the latest Millenium Falcon UCS. While most were shouting "HOW MUCH for it?!?!" the others are still waiting to buy it 6-7 months after its release.

    Lego was never cheap and never will be. But I'm ok with that. It's a "timeless" toy which I can take out in 20-30 years and it will not loose any of its playability value.

  30. imanidiot Silver badge

    I too bought the Lego Saturn V set (Plus 2 spares that will remain in their cellophane and unopened in my attic for the next 10 to 20 years or so. To either be given as gifts or sold of for profit) I plan on building the LUT too for the set I'm building for myself, just have to gather the funds and then parts to actually buy all the bricks.

  31. Børge Nøst

    I need more space

    Sometime in the first half of the 80s one of my local toy shops had a sale on Lego and I found to my astonishment a 1969 model Ranger locomotive at cut-price. Not that I knew exactly that at the time, I only knew that I wanted one but they hadn't been in shops as long as I could remember. I'm pretty sure I even have the box back in mom's house. Looking at the model ads supplied in the box made me realize that train tech actually was worse in the 70s-80s then end of 60s.

    I think I have seen it valued at $400. If I had more space I'd bring along my Lego stuff and build some train tracks and environment.

  32. steviebuk Silver badge

    I love it...

    ...I don't know what it is but I still love Lego. An Adult Fan of Lego (it's a thing). But I only really like the sets as I have no imagination. But their biggest issue is greed with their prices. The Death Star that was recently retired was then re-released about a few months to a year later. Only a few extra bricks were added. Most of the design was the same yet they believe they are justified in raising the price of the new set over £100 more than it was. THIS is their big issue.

  33. small and stupid

    Random thoughts

    I doubt if Lego is more expensive in real terms than it used to be.

    Some of the tie-ins seem questionable, they seem to ignore the buildability.

    Eg Star Wars seems right, because taking your X-wing set and your Y-wing set and mashing them up to make a Z-wing is natural. But whatya gonna do with Harry Potter? Make a different Hagrids Hut?

    The problem now isnt the specialised bricks, its that the set designs are over-complicated, over-specific, and havent been designed to be customisable. eg.as a kid building LL928 gave me a template for building other spaceships. While a typical star wars lego spaceship doesnt teach you how to make anything else (i know that kinda undermines my point above but at least the Idea of Star wars lego makes sense)

  34. El Kapitan

    LEGO Obsession:

    I have 5-year old twins. They (especially my son) are obsessed with LEGO, its Disney Sets, and YouTube vids of assembling the Disney Sets. They watch these vids and play with the LEGO on a daly basis.

    Chris Gray 1 wrote:

    "FAIL ... Do your research ... I know this is a lot of El Reg commentards, but as usual you should do a bit of reseach before mouthing off. ,,, LEGO in general does not make specialty pieces for sets."

    If I understand this comment correctly, it is not correct. The Disney character sets include many special pieces and they come in special colours.

    So, we have some boxes of regular LEGO pieces and some Disney LEGO sets. Actually, we have just one set, the others are future plans based on KPI's such as reading and writing performance. The Elsa's Magical Ice Palace set has been built and remains as it is, unless I spot a discrepancy between "as-built" and the instructions, when it gets totally dismantled and re-built brick-by-brick. There is however not so much creativity here.

    The conventional LEGO parts, however, get dismantled and re-built often, and are used to create imaginative versions of the "wish-list" LEGO sets or even illustrate story themes or abstract concepts in brick form. I would gladly buy more of them if I could find the outlet where LEGO is selling off all of their surplus inventory ....

  35. Chris Gray 1

    You got me

    El Kapitan: you have me on the Disney stuff - none of the nearly 2000 Lego sets I've bought over the years has "Disney" in its name or category.

    Others mentioned the Harry Potter sets as specialized. Well, a local friend who has the largest online LEGO store in Canada called them "Harry Parter" since some are such a goldmine of parts for other stuff. I don't have an online store, but bought multiples of some of them to get the parts.

    I like the modular buildings, and some of the Creator 3-in-1 sets. I also buy boxes of just bricks, but for larger quantities I buy on bricklink.com . I love large Technic sets, but find the new lift-arm style ones a pain (physically!) to take apart.

  36. harmjschoonhoven

    LEGO bricks

    (ABS) dissolved in acetone makes excellent glue or thick paste. It hardens to the air. Use titanium sheet as non-sticking frame. Just saying.

  37. Rockets

    Set Prices

    Lego is often criticised for the set prices but I think there's a significant amount of royalties being paid by Lego to companies to use their brands in sets - especially Disney. When you compare a Friends set to a Star Wars or Marvel set, Friends is quite a bit cheaper. A medium or large tub of the Classic brand is even cheaper still. The quality of the knock brands such as Lepin has gotten better but it's still quite inferior to Lego. I don't mind paying the price of Lego for my kids as I know I can sell it later 2nd hand as there's huge demand for old Lego sets or even just a bunch of random bricks. Or I'll store it away for the later generations as it will last.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Set Prices

      re: royalties...

      I think you're right. i also think that Lego do some of the inflation themselves. This could be why they are struggling. Look at a couple of the recent Star Wars sets - one is a half complete version of an older set and one is basically a way of getting Mace Windu. The Mace Windu set was £25 odd and a creator set of similar price had nearly double the brick count.

      I am hoping that this either limits the number of sets or brings down the prices. As a household we have two collectors (me - Star Wars, SWMBO - technics, vehicles and architecture) and hundreds (read that as a number I'm too embarrassed to actually think of....) of sets are very interested to see what develops.

  38. Rob
    Boffin

    Some people on here clearly have no imagination

    There is a lot of people on here whinging about the specialised bits and how in their day they could build more stuff without the specialised bits. Clearly you lot have a limited imagination, the specialised bits mean even more creativity, you only have to look on pinterest to see the art of the possible, some truely talent builders using those specialised bricks in imaginative ways

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    eclipsed by the partner brands

    Believe it or not, there's a policy at Lego to be conservative about the number of new brick types that are introduced. There are many exceptions, but even some apparently speciality bricks have multiple uses by design.

    My son (7) never really got hooked on Lego until the minecraft sets appeared, and even then, he much prefers to play minecraft on the playstation or PC.

    The minecraft lego sets are made almost entirely of standard brick shapes, and yet my son takes care not to 'pollute' his minecraft lego with any standard bricks which don't have the minecraft colours. Some of the bricks did have the right colours, luckily, but as I grew up without the luxury of having bricks in my preferred colours, this is a little strange for me.

    FWIW the most important lego items for minecraft play are 6x6 flat plates and 2x2 'tiles' with a single stud dead centre (87580 etc.). Together with completely ordinary 2x2 bricks you can go far with these.

    What I really miss in the market is nicely bound instruction manuals for making a range of models. Dorling Kindersley has published a couple of nicely bound books, but they're not really instructions, just 'inspiration'. Lego itself produced an "idea book" every five years or so from the late 60s onwards, but it was a flimsy, soft-covered affair.

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